Greece ferry fire: Missing Olympia passenger found alive as hunt for 11 others continues

Extreme temperatures on board the ship have made certain areas of the vessel inaccessible to rescue teams

Hundreds rescued after fire breaks out on Euroferry Olympia from Greece to Italy

A missing passenger onboard a ferry that caught fire at sea off Corfu has been found alive, while the hunt continues for 11 others.

The man from Belarus was discovered on the left rear side of the still-burning Euroferry Olympia and is in a good condition, a coast guard spokesman said.

The fire onboard the Italian-flagged ferry, which was carrying more than 290 passengers and crew and 185 vehicles, broke out three hours after it departed from the Greek port of Igoumenitsa.

Around 280 people were evacuated by the the Greek coast guard and the crews of other boats to the island of Corfu. People rescued included citizens of Albania, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Italy, and Lithuania.

Rescue teams worked through the night to attempt to control the blaze.

Firefighting vessels continue works to extinguish the fire onboard the ferry

“We heard the alarm. We thought it was some kind of drill. But we saw through the portholes that people were running,” truck driver Karaolanidis said, describing the terrifying events.

“You can’t think something at the time (other than) your family... When I hit the deck, I saw smoke and children. Fortunately, they (the crew) acted quickly.”

On Saturday morning, a major search was launched to recover the 12 people - now 11 - believed to still be missing in the Ionian Sea.

The Belarus survivor (R), 21, is escorted by Greek coast guards upon his arrival at the port of Corfu

“A very large rescue and firefighting effort is still underway, as is the search for the 12 people missing that include three Greeks and our thoughts with all their families,” Giannis Plakiotakis, shipping minister, told Skai TV.

But extreme temperatures on board the ship have made certain areas of the vessel inaccessible, hampering the rescue team’s efforts - made up of a Disaster Management Unit and a team of rescuers from private operators.

Reports have also emerged that the Euroferry Olympia is beginning to pitch under the weight of the water poured onto it by firefighting vessels attempting to put out the blaze. But authorities have said the ferry is not in danger of capsizing.

Smoke rises from the Italian-owned Euroferry Olympia

The source of the fire onboard the ferry remains unclear, but its Italy-based operator said it had started in the hold where vehicles were kept.

“We heard that the fire started in the hold, but it’s not certain,” one passenger told Skai TV. “It took just 15 minutes for the fire to reach the deck.”

The stricken ferry can be seen in the background as smoke rises

At present, the listing Euroferry Olympia is being towed toward the port of Kassiopi, in northeastern Corfu, by three tugboats, leaving behind it thick clouds of smoke.

Authorities have said firefighters are continuing to fight the blaze, which has reignited a number of times in more confined spaces on board the ship.

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